A interesting conversation revolved around ideas and strategies about how to most effectively influence others to change their behaviors.
This discussion led to the concept about how eliciting a consequence is more effective than imposing one. As Dodie and I were conversing, she related the following incident about her son, Paul, when he was six years old:
He and two other kindergarten boys got into a tussle on the playground, and they were also disobedient. Paul knew that if I ever got a call from school about his behavior, it would be met with disapproval.
When I went to pick him up, he said right away, “What’s my punishment going to be?”
I said to him that he knew what he had done wrong, that his behavior was inappropriate, and that he had to decide for himself what his punishment would be. He thought about it for awhile and decided that six days of being “grounded” should be his punishment—no electronic games, no friends over, no extra activities, no dinner out.
This happened on a Monday, and he told me that he picked six days because if he was good for those days, he would be un-grounded by Sunday and would still have one day to play on the weekend. It was a long six days for him, but he made it and actually had a friend over to play on Sunday.
When I went to pick him up on Monday from school, he was very excited. As he left the building, he yelled out to one of his friends and a teacher’s aide, “It’s good not to be grounded!”
Perhaps you should know that Paul started putting himself in time-outs when he was 3! Probably because that’s what I did with myself. If I became frustrated or mad or impatient with him, I would excuse myself. I would say, “Paul, I’m going to go sit on the porch and take a break. I’ll come back and talk with you when I’m calm.” He usually came to look for me to apologize for his behavior or to see if I was alright.